T Nation

Psychology: Talking to Newbs

I have my psychology degree so i know a good deal about how people think. Theres things that we all can do to help the newbies without turning them off to the sport or sacrificing much of our own energy. Lets face it, being a newbie sucks, we dont need to make it any harder for them.

The reason why you should care is obvious. Our sport is wonderful, and makes our lives better. If you have the ability to share it, please do so. Our sport will grow and even doing some simple things can help spread it so others like ourselves can benefit.

First of all, I want to talk about what goes on in the gym. Obviously new guys suck at training at the beginning. DONT tell them they are doing things wrong. This will make them feel embarassed and puny, which is not what we want. Instead, TALK to them like you were talking to a pro. Trust me, this works.

Last month I saw a small geeky looking 16 yr old doing squats with terrible form. He was mostly using his back, head down, back bent over, etc. I walked up to him and said “hey, do you like doing squats more with your back bent and head down?.. I used to do it that way, but now I keep my back straight, head up, etc… Try that, maybe it could give you some good results” …

The kid knew he wasnt an expert, so he took my suggestion, and now whenever i see him training legs, he does squats perfectly. Imagine if I were to tell him “hey, you’re doing that wrong, dont bend ur back, dont look down, etc.” He would feel like a complete idiot and would be very embarassed whenever in the gym.

This may be enough to turn some people away from our sport when they are in that fragile beginner phase. Also, those newbs look up to us experienced/big guys. If you see a newb putting 110% into shoulder presses, tell him “damn, that was a monster set”.

Whenever talking to a newb, ALWAYS use POSITIVE language. Examples are " This works for me, maybe you can try it and see what you think" or… " I usually do squats in the squat rack, can i work in with you if you are gong to be doing curls?"

This positive language will teach them the lesson without making them feel out of place or embarassed. DONT use language like " if you do it that way, you are going to injure ur shoulder" or " squat racks are for squatting, not curling"

The next thing is about this board. Newbs may not do things right, they may openly ask for sources or ask dumb questions that could have been solved by doing research on their own. I see older members telling them they are idiots for sourcing, or that they are incompetent and that their question could have been answered by doing research.

Talking to them like that is not productive. Instead, pm them and say “hey man, i saw your source post and thought id give you a heads up. sourcing like that can be dangerous cuz some cops watch this board, i dont want u to get caught, so you might want to think about keeping that stuff on the down low.” thats better than calling them fuckheads for laughing and telling them to go to ebay.

Also, if they ask a dumb training question, instead of posting a reply saying they are lazy and a rookie, post a reply with a link to mesomorphosis or bb.com. and say that they have some good articles relating to the question.

Too many people around here and at the gym make new guys feel inferior and embarassed. If you want this sport to grow, talk to them the right way using positive language instead of negatives.

amen

I don’t give shit about newbs. Besides, the world doesn’t need any more wannabe training gurus.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

I guess it’s all down to whether you think of yourself as someone just offering friendly advice or a mentor or trainer of sorts.

If I point something out to someone I use a similar approach to Bushy with similar results. I am doing the person looking at an injury or wasted time a favour by telling them, they are not doing me a favour by listening therefore there is no need to comfort them and candy coat the advice, besides unless they’re stupid they should be able to work out that you think they’re doing it wrong anyway.

There’s a middle ground between being too nice and being aggressive. If someone asked my if I like doing squats by only moving my legs 2 inches then told me I should go all the way down I would take the first question as a patronising jab at me.

If they just came out and said that I should go lower as I am basically cheating myself by moving 2 inches I would take it as advice, thank them and move on, no embarrassment, insecurity etc.

You’re assuming that all “newbs” are overly sensitive and fragile.

[quote]IQ wrote:
I guess it’s all down to whether you think of yourself as someone just offering friendly advice or a mentor or trainer of sorts.

If I point something out to someone I use a similar approach to Bushy with similar results. I am doing the person looking at an injury or wasted time a favour by telling them, they are not doing me a favour by listening therefore there is no need to comfort them and candy coat the advice, besides unless they’re stupid they should be able to work out that you think they’re doing it wrong anyway.

There’s a middle ground between being too nice and being aggressive. If someone asked my if I like doing squats by only moving my legs 2 inches then told me I should go all the way down I would take the first question as a patronising jab at me.

If they just came out and said that I should go lower as I am basically cheating myself by moving 2 inches I would take it as advice, thank them and move on, no embarrassment, insecurity etc.

You’re assuming that all “newbs” are overly sensitive and fragile.[/quote]

I guess it really depends on the audience. You’d talk differently to a nerdy teenager than a 65 year old man doing something wrong.

A few things:

1> Unless asked or unless someone is in danger of imminent injury I would almost never offer advice in a commercial gym. An exception would be if I saw the same guy several times and he left the impression that he was putting his heart into it and just didn’t know what he was doing. 99% of the time for various reasons it’s a complete waste

2> In these forums (or any others) they ARE asking and it’s still a complete waste 99% of the time. They usually think they know 100 times more than they do, or worse, do know 100 times more than they know how to use and or simply want somebody to substantially affirm what they think they already want. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try anyway, but know ahead of time what you’re likely in for.

3> There is no reason not to initiate an exchange in a constructive, positive manner. There is also no reason not to continue in that fashion as long as it remains productive which isn’t too often. Failing that I usually just bow out these days.

4> Having said all that, this post modern psycho-babbling bullshit is thoroughly faggotizing the modern western male. People have only become this frickin delicate in the last 100 years, especially the last 50.

Anybody who CAN be discouraged out of achievement by somebody else’s criticism is an emotional weakling for whom not making gains in the gym will be the least of their long term problems.

[quote]Acebgd12 wrote:
I guess it really depends on the audience. You’d talk differently to a nerdy teenager than a 65 year old man doing something wrong.

[/quote]

If the advice is the same why would you change the delivery? Whether teenager or pensioner they should both be able to understand, if not, oh well.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
A few things:

1> Unless asked or unless someone is in danger of imminent injury I would almost never offer advice in a commercial gym. An exception would be if I saw the same guy several times and he left the impression that he was putting his heart into it and just didn’t know what he was doing. 99% of the time for various reasons it’s a complete waste

2> In these forums (or any others) they ARE asking and it’s still a complete waste 99% of the time. They usually think they know 100 times more than they do, or worse, do know 100 times more than they know how to use and or simply want somebody to substantially affirm what they think they already want. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try anyway, but know ahead of time what you’re likely in for.

3> There is no reason not to initiate an exchange in a constructive, positive manner. There is also no reason not to continue in that fashion as long as it remains productive which isn’t too often. Failing that I usually just bow out these days.

4> Having said all that, this post modern psycho-babbling bullshit is thoroughly faggotizing the modern western male. People have only become this frickin delicate in the last 100 years, especially the last 50.

Anybody who CAN be discouraged out of achievement by somebody else’s criticism is an emotional weakling for whom not making gains in the gym will be the least of their long term problems.[/quote]

I agree, almost.

Positive and constructive is one thing but I just have visions of people in the gym saying stuff like:

“Hey buddy, looks like you’re getting some mind blowing muscle pumps with those barbell curls. Have you ever tried putting weight on the bar, I hear that it can work the muscle even better. See you later champ, high five!”

I sincerely hope this never happens.

IQ: you are right, I did assume that all newbs are overly sensitive and fragile, this is not the case. I just think it would be good to approach the issue like that cuz we cant tell if they are like that or not.

[quote]youngguns516 wrote:
IQ: you are right, I did assume that all newbs are overly sensitive and fragile, this is not the case. I just think it would be good to approach the issue like that cuz we cant tell if they are like that or not.[/quote]

Your heart’s in the right place man. Ya wanna be helpful and there’s no reason to begin a conversation with [quote]“look you spastic imbecilic moron.”[/quote] However, you can be helpful and constructive without tip toeing around afraid you may violate their glass egos.

If I did train at a commercial gym and did see somebody who looked like they were putting their balls behind it and actually in danger of getting somewhere I’d say something like this:

“Hey man, I couldn’t help noticing you here a few times now and it looks like you’re just getting started. If you got a minute I could throw a few basic tips you’re way that may help ya out”

How they responded to something like that would let me know whether I was wasting my time or not.

I absolutely would not argue or even dispute with anybody. Don’t need any help? Fine, have a nice life. Like the way you’re going already? Fine, have a nice life. Your big brother’s gym coach at Wounded Knee High School told you different? Fine, have a nice life.

Any response other than sincere receptiveness and I’m gone. Life’s too short.

[quote]IQ wrote:
<<< I agree, almost.

Positive and constructive is one thing but I just have visions of people in the gym saying stuff like:

“Hey buddy, looks like you’re getting some mind blowing muscle pumps with those barbell curls. Have you ever tried putting weight on the bar, I hear that it can work the muscle even better. See you later champ, high five!”

I sincerely hope this never happens.[/quote]

LOL! No, that’s not what I meant. I just mean that common civility is in order just as in any other life situation. I will say though that some of these asswipes just beg to be hammered and it’s pretty hard to resist sometimes.

I coached and taught high school for a year. During that time I learned that the best way was to keep it short and sweet. this is what a typical instruction sounded like.

“You’re not getting deep enough”
“keep your back arched”
“look up”
“You’re not getting deep enough”
“keep tight”
“You’re not getting deep enough”
“sit back”
“Okay we’ll count that one even though it wasn’t quite deep enough, lets rack it and take some weight off”

I completely agree with number 4. If you want to succeed at anything in life you can’t crumble and give up the second someone criticizes you.

The only time I ever step in is when I see a kid squatting which such horrible form that I’m positive he is going to tip over forward and the bar is going to crush him into the floor.

And I don’t coddle him and say “That looks like a killer set of quarter squats you’re doing there, but maybe you shouldn’t round your entire upper body forward and stare at the ground. Bring that head up and puff out that chest with pride. You’re special, too!”

Tell it like it is when giving advice. Chances are, if they’re going to stick with it and succeed, they’ll act humble and enjoy being given help by someone who has more results than they do.

Don’t give unsolicited advice. You’re wasting your time. They don’t want to hear it, and regardless of whether or not you’re right, like Tirib said, they THINK they’re right and won’t listen to you.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
A few things:

1> Unless asked or unless someone is in danger of imminent injury I would almost never offer advice in a commercial gym. An exception would be if I saw the same guy several times and he left the impression that he was putting his heart into it and just didn’t know what he was doing. 99% of the time for various reasons it’s a complete waste

2> In these forums (or any others) they ARE asking and it’s still a complete waste 99% of the time. They usually think they know 100 times more than they do, or worse, do know 100 times more than they know how to use and or simply want somebody to substantially affirm what they think they already want. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try anyway, but know ahead of time what you’re likely in for.

3> There is no reason not to initiate an exchange in a constructive, positive manner. There is also no reason not to continue in that fashion as long as it remains productive which isn’t too often. Failing that I usually just bow out these days.

4> Having said all that, this post modern psycho-babbling bullshit is thoroughly faggotizing the modern western male. People have only become this frickin delicate in the last 100 years, especially the last 50.

Anybody who CAN be discouraged out of achievement by somebody else’s criticism is an emotional weakling for whom not making gains in the gym will be the least of their long term problems.[/quote]

Newbs
I ask if they have a computer with internet…
Then give them T-Nation.com

After a few days they usually come back with a new light in there eyes.

Nuff Said

[quote]youngguns516 wrote:
I have my psychology degree so i know a good deal about how people think.[/quote]

This is one of the funnier things I sometimes hear. Dude, having a B.A. in psychology does not mean anything. You can’t legally see patients, and no one would say you are even prepared to see patients. You have a superficial knowledge at best.

Get your Ph.D. and and then you can talk about your psychology degree.

[quote]tveddy wrote:
I coached and taught high school for a year. During that time I learned that the best way was to keep it short and sweet. this is what a typical instruction sounded like.

“You’re not getting deep enough”
“keep your back arched”
“look up”
“You’re not getting deep enough”
“keep tight”
“You’re not getting deep enough”
“sit back”
“Okay we’ll count that one even though it wasn’t quite deep enough, lets rack it and take some weight off”[/quote]

The crazy thing is, nowadays if you said any more than that you’re liable to be sued by some tofu addicted parent for damaging little Perciville,s self esteem.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
tveddy wrote:
I coached and taught high school for a year. During that time I learned that the best way was to keep it short and sweet. this is what a typical instruction sounded like.

“You’re not getting deep enough”
“keep your back arched”
“look up”
“You’re not getting deep enough”
“keep tight”
“You’re not getting deep enough”
“sit back”
“Okay we’ll count that one even though it wasn’t quite deep enough, lets rack it and take some weight off”

The crazy thing is, nowadays if you said any more than that you’re liable to be sued by some tofu addicted parent for damaging little Perciville,s self esteem.[/quote]

aha. not exactly. I was in a small town where people still have a little common sense. I don’t think I could have taught in a city though.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
youngguns516 wrote:
I have my psychology degree so i know a good deal about how people think.

This is one of the funnier things I sometimes hear. Dude, having a B.A. in psychology does not mean anything. You can’t legally see patients, and no one would say you are even prepared to see patients. You have a superficial knowledge at best.

Get your Ph.D. and and then you can talk about your psychology degree. [/quote]

I, too, thought this was an inauspicious opening. I clicked on the thread expecting some 200 proof stupid.

I have to say I was mildly disappointed in that regard.

Not that the post is brilliant or anything, but definitely more boring than stupid --and way too long for such a simple point.

to the OP,
i respect this opinion. i have around 2yrs of training under my belt, and do not consider myself a vet by any means.

when i began training occasionally i friendly old hat would give me a tip or two, usually on a compound such as deadlifts or some such.
from memory i usually took a session or two to digest their advice but it made a difference to me, and i appreciated it.

Personally i only proffer advice if the newb looked open to it. And i have done so, and sure enough, they dont seem to want to be corrected regardless of the manner in which i give them advice, then i see them a week or so later with the adjusted form!

pride is part of being a man. newb or vet. Younguns advice may well be a useful way to promote our love of iron.